Raised bed, square foot, or container, let’s learn how to grow some summer squash!
Summer squash is one of the all time most popular vegetables grown in a vegetable garden.
Summer squash is, as the name implies, a warm growing season vegetable. It can grow in most parts of the US during the warm months.
Summer squash grows on bush plants well suited for rows, rather than vining squash plants like winter squash, or pumpkins.
These vining varieties of winter squash need to be grown on a hill or a trellis. Hills are not needed for summer squash, as there are no vines
Summer Squash Seedlings
The main varieties of summer squash are scallop, crookneck, zucchini, and cocozelle.
Once the last chance of frost has passed, plant seeds one per square foot, following the depth guides on the seed package.
Transplant young summer squash seedlings started indoors well after the last frost date.
Summer squash has a shallow feeder root system, so routine moisture is a requirement, as well as having well drained soil.
Summer Squash Transplants
The fruits ripen quite fast, and unlike winter squash, summer squash needs to be harvested before the skin becomes tough and woody.
The woody texture, and off flavors occur when the fruits hit maturity.
Summer squash produces every two days, the squash are ready a week after the flowers appear.
Pick scallop, or patty pan, squash when they are four inches across, and club shaped or crookneck at six inches.
Summer Squash Plant
Picking squash from the plant encourages it to grow more fruits, allowing the extras to remain on the plant wastes energy that could be devoted to growing more squashes.
Bring extra squash to friends or coworkers, or throw them in the compost bins.
Summer squash does not keep long after being harvested. Use them immediately, or the next day at the latest.
Wear gloves while harvesting, as the stems can be prickly and irritate your skin.
As always, leave an inch of stem on the fruit when you cut it off the plant, this will help it stay fresher longer.
Some gardeners pick the baby fruits at only two days of growth, these ‘gourmet’ squashes are extremely tender and quite delicious.
You can even eat the florets with the green pea sized squashes just emerging, both raw and cooked.
Handle your harvest with care, as the skin is still thin since it has not reached maturity.
Summer squash produces both male and female flowers at the same time. The males have a thin stem, and the females have a small squash forming in them.
You can pinch off most of the male flowers, to help the plant focus on fruit production.
You do not need to peel summer squash, in fact – don’t, it’s where all the nutrients reside.
In the last few decades, the amount of summer squash varieties has exploded, they are very easy to create hybrids with. In fact, the zucchini was introduced to Italy only a hundred years ago from America.
Learning to grow summer squash in your backyard is just that easy.